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Article ID: 3501
Age Group: Adult
Posted: June 3rd. 2001
Witch Cinema 01
by Peg Aloi
This new column will explore the world of movies (and occasionally television) that is particularly of interest to witches and pagans. Previews of Hollywood films, recommendations for films out on video and DVD, and loving reviews of long-lost classics in re-release, even news about upcoming productions; all these will be fair game for Witch Cinema!
Opening this week!
Baz Luhrmann's exotic, exciting new musical starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan Macgregor as young lovers captivated by the magic of 1920s Paris. This film is so visually stunning it is almost intoxicating. Some might find it a bit too busy, but I found it very enthralling to watch. The musical numbers are very creative, with dance numbers to contemporary songs by Sting, Madonna and Elton John, among others, giving this film an anachronistic look and feel that transcends any one time or place. The costumes and special effects are just about the best I have seen this year. What's pagan? Watch for a sequence early in the film, when an advertising icon for absinthe (The Green Fairy) comes to life!
Atlantis: The Lost Empire:
So far this summer's top pagan pick looks to be Atlantis: The Lost Empire I have not enjoyed too many of these Hollywood animated films in recent years (not since The Lion King) but this one is quite good. Gorgeous art direction and scenery. It tells the story of an idealistic young linguist (voiced by Michael J. Fox) who has deciphered some tablets rumored to be from the mythical sunken city of Atlantis. A group of not-so-trustworthy explorers (led by a scruffy Marine captain with James Garner's voice) bring him below the sea's surface and they do indeed find the mythical land and its magical inhabitants. I would not want to spoil the story, but I will say it is a non-stop thriller and very beautiful and magical to watch. The depiction of the mythology and ancestral beliefs of the Atlanteans is sure to appeal to pagan audiences. Be sure to let me know what you think of this one!
Opening soon in your town if you're lucky!
The re-release of Monty Python and the Holy Grail!
A new print with never-before-seen footage! This classic comedy from the lads Python gets funnier every time you see it. It will only play a limited run in select theatres, but this probably means it will also be available on DVD soon. I saw a press screening recently and this film looks GREAT on the big screen; the new print is a real treat for those, like me, who have only seen battered copies on VHS. I have yet to meet a witch who does not laugh uproariously at the infamous "witch burning scene." I also know way too many people who can recite most (or all) of this movie by heart. Bring your own coconuts!
Also in re-release this summer:
Juliet of the Spirits
This lovely film by Federico Fellini will be showing in selected cities. The lead is played by Giulietta Masina, his wife, who appeared in a number of his films which examine the female psyche in poetic and profound ways (especially in Nights of Cabiria and La Strada). Juliet of the Spirits has been called the anima to the animus in Fellini's autobiographical 8 1/2, and is the compelling story of a woman who seeks out mediums and clairvoyants to understand haunting visions from her past. I am privileged to live in a city where Fellini's films are often shown on the big screen. I recently saw a newly-restored print of Fellini Satyricon ( a grand pagan theatrical production set in ancient Rome) at the historic Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, and there is also a Fellini retrosepective now playing at the Harvard Film Archive. The world lost one of the great filmmakers of history when Fellini died several years ago. His passionate creativity and vision have inspired countless other artists, and his films are among my favorites.
Still playing in your area, perhaps:
I loved this film, a sensual, magical story of a woman who brings her magical ways with chocolate to a repressed French village in the 1950s. With Juliette Binoche, Johnny Depp and Judi Dench (who won an Oscar for her portrayal of a stubborn woman who rejects religious piety for her more individual paganistic beliefs), how can you go wrong? Oh, and make sure you go for chocolate afterwards!
A little bird told me:
The eagerly-awaited "The Mists of Avalon" will be showing on the TNT network this summer. Based on Marion Zimmer Bradley's epic novel about the women behind King Arthur's throne, pagans everywhere are curious to see how this story translates on film. Some fine actors will appear, including Julianna Margulies (of "ER") as Morgaine, and Angelica Huston as Viviane. One pagan we know got an advance tape and said he liked it for the most part, but was disappointed in the portrayal of Merlin. More on this as we find out more! This is one project which has been in the works for years; actor James Coburn originally had the rights to make it into a mini-series (he was lasted to play Merlin) but the production got shelved. Then the so-so mini-series "Merlin" happened, which many (including me) believe was a half-assed attempt to realize the "Mists" story... let's hope this one honors Bradley's book as it deserves to be honored.
Oh, and don't quote me:
I recently heard about a West End stage musical production of "The Wicker Man" to open in London within the year... can the Broadway version be far behind? Let's hope they don't move it to Buffalo like they did with The Full Monty.
Bright blessings, and see you at the movies!
Media Coordinator - The Witches' Voice
Saturday, June 4th, 2001
Email: [Staff Email]
Note: Old-time cinemas are fast disappearing in the United States; there is an active movement afoot to preserve the ones that remain, having the buildings declared historic landmarks and raising funds to renovate them to revive their past glory. Many of them were called Bijou or Bijoux, or names that conjured up the glory of bygone days of Hollywood, like Zeigfeld, or Capitol, or Paramount. The new multi-plexes (you know, with the climate control and the shiny candy counters) are all owned by movie distributors, and this makes it difficult for the grand old movie houses to get first-run films, so many of them subsist by showing art films or second-run mainstream movies. Help preserve the history and magic of this bygone time by supporting your local art-house cinema!
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